Researchers gain funding for cancer breathalyser

In collaboration with the Press Association

A US research team has won $446,731 (about £250,000) in funding to develop technology that could eventually lead to a breath test for breast cancer.

The technology, which remains in the earliest stages of testing, may one day result in a quick, cost-effective method of detecting breast cancer even earlier than current x-ray-based detection methods.

The technology, created by researchers at the University of Michigan, uses a new material which captures and reacts with tiny molecules of oil and water in the air or in breath.

Theoretically, the material could be made to react when it comes into contact with molecules contained in the breath or urine. Preliminary work published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment has suggested that this may be possible.

"The prospect of having such a quick, simple and painless test for breast cancer is exciting," said Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK.

"But this is very early work and needs validating in large trials before it could ever be used routinely.

"In the meantime, it is important for all women to be breast aware, checking their breasts regularly, and those over 50 should attend breast screening when invited," she added.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK, with 42,000 new cases diagnosed every year.

Find out more about breast cancer detection on CancerHelp UK

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